What are Canberra’s oldest surviving businesses?

Northbourne Avenue Canberra from City Hill showing the Sydney and Melbourne business buildings in Canberra’s Civic Centre 1930 c/o National Archives of Australia

17 September 2019


What are Canberra’s oldest surviving businesses?

Canberra Business Chamber is looking for Canberra’s oldest surviving businesses. And it’s putting out a call to the community to help find them.

“This year marks more than 70 years that the Chamber has been operating, and we want to celebrate those individual businesses that have also been here for the long term,” Chamber CEO Dr Michael Schaper said today.

“Today Canberra is a private sector town – almost two-thirds of local residents now work outside of government. Whilst that’s a relatively new trend, the private sector has always been important to the ACT.

“Canberra was founded on the site of a private agricultural property, and there have been businesses trading here even before the decision was made to make this location the national capital.

“But what are the oldest businesses still around? We don’t know, and we ought to celebrate them,” Dr Schaper said.

“Some of our existing Chamber members have particularly long life spans. These include Corkhill Brothers (established 1954), WR Engineering (1967), and Watson Blinds & Awnings (founded 1969).”

“These survivors have made it against the odds. Most businesses only have a relatively short lifespan. The average life expectancy of a business based in Canberra is still only about 5 years.

“But we also know many businesses thrive and grow. We want to find the oldest surviving businesses.”

The oldest businesses will be celebrated at the Chamber’s annual gala dinner, to be held on 7 November at the National Museum of Australia, with the theme Canberra Business: Then, Now and Always.

“We’re hoping Canberrans will help us identify who they are. While some names are well known to us, others are not. But they’re all important, and they’re all part of the history of our town.

“People can contact us at info@canberrabusiness.com or ring me at the Chamber on 02 6247 4199. We’d be delighted to hear their stories.”